Quick question, is it better (long term) to lose weight fast like the Hare, or slow like the Tortoise?
Most people would probably guess that slow and steady wins the race.
That is usually the moral of the story…
BUT NOT SO FAST
According to a recent study:
“Losing weight at a fast initial rate leads to greater short-term weight reductions, does not result in increased susceptibility to weight regain, and is associated with larger weight losses and overall long-term success in weight management.”
The study continued by stating:
“We suggest that, within lifestyle weight control programs, substantial efforts should be focused on promoting large rather than small behavioral changes during the initial weeks of treatment.”
Conducted at the University of Florida and published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, here is how the study was conducted.
262 middle-aged obese (BMI over 30) women were enrolled in strict diet and exercise programs.
After the first month, the ladies were split into three groups, labeled FAST, MODERATE, and SLOW, depending on how much weight they had lost.
The FAST group contained women who had lost 1.5 or more pounds each week.
The MODERATE group lost between .5 and 1.5 pounds per week.
While the SLOW group lost under .5 pounds each week.
They continued the study for six months and, of course, the FAST group lost the most weight, followed by the MODERATE GROUP, and then the SLOW group…
No surprise, but read on to find out what happened 18 months later…
After 18 months (12 months on their own), the researchers checked in with the ladies for the final time. The results determined that members of the FAST group were five times more
likely than the SLOW Group to achieve their goals of 10% total weight loss.
And, most importantly, they were most able to maintain their new weight after 18 months.
The researchers also calculated that ladies in the MODERATE group were three times more likely to achieve and maintain their weight loss goals than the SLOW group members.
So is Losing Weight Fast the Secret to Long Term Weight Loss?
You hear all the time about the secret to long term weight loss is a slow “lifestyle change.” If you don’t change your lifestyle, then a “diet” will just be a short term affair.
However, in this study, the FAST group lost weight at a rate of only 1.5 pounds a week, which is still considered safe by most if not all weight loss authorities.
So I wouldn’t go on an overly aggressive diet thinking that this study somehow gives credence to the idea that fad diets are the key to long term weight loss, but it does indicate that you can possibly be trying to lose weight too slowly!
What This Might Mean
More research is needed, but it appears that if a person isn’t seeing tangible results in a short enough time that it can hinder motivation.
And 1.5 pounds might just be that magic number.
I will do more research and try to find that magic number for you. If you know of any other research please comment below.
Until next time,
Dr. Steven Sisskind
Steve Sisskind, M.D.
Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.
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Nackers, Lisa M., Kathryn M. Ross, and Michael G. Perri. “The Association Between Rate of Initial Weight Loss and Long-Term
Success in Obesity Treatment: Does Slow and Steady Win The Race?” International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, May 2010.